Leonard Bernstein: From Mahler to the Beatles

For our discussions on The Beatles’ Revolver album I dug out the clip below from Leonard Bernstein’s celebrated lecture series The Unanswered Question, Six Talks at Harvard. This short extract is from Lecture 5: The 20th Century Crisis, in which he focuses on Mahler’s 9th Symphony. He sees this great symphony as a prophetic vision… Continue reading Leonard Bernstein: From Mahler to the Beatles

Gustav Mahler: Alienation and Spirituality

Mahler’s spirituality was defined by his personal inner demons and psychological struggles. He was a typical late Romantic in this respect. With Mahler’s music there is none of the objective contemplation of God that we see in the music of J.S. Bach, for example; everything Mahler wrote was highly subjective. His contemporary, one-time friend and… Continue reading Gustav Mahler: Alienation and Spirituality

Mahler and Hesse: What the Water Tells Me

Mahler’s composing hut in Steinbach. (Photograph courtesy of Alex Ross) Gustav Mahler was working on his Symphony No. 2 in 1894 when he decided to build a composing hut in a lakeside meadow in Steinbach. The builder who constructed the hut was a man named Franz Lösch, and in an interview with a Viennese journal… Continue reading Mahler and Hesse: What the Water Tells Me

Jessica Duchen on Mahler’s Symphony No. 2

Jessica Duchen writes an interesting review of Simone Young conducting the LPO at the Royal Festival Hall in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’: Jessica Duchen’s classical music blog: Maaaghler “What is life and what is death?” wrote Mahler, explaining the first movement. “Have we any continuing existence? Is it all an empty… Continue reading Jessica Duchen on Mahler’s Symphony No. 2

Simon Rattle Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 9

Charles Noble is one of my favourite classical music bloggers, and his review of the new recording of Mahler’s 9th Symphony performed by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic is, to put it mildly, glowing: I have to say that it just might be the best modern recording of any work by any orchestra. You… Continue reading Simon Rattle Conducts Mahler’s Symphony No. 9

Symphonic Form – Sibelius vs Mahler

The following is an extract from New Yorker music critic Alex Ross’s new book The Rest Is Noise, a guide to twentieth century classical music. It provides some insight into the differences between Sibelius and Mahler, and their approach to symphonic composition. In 1904, Sibelius tried to escape the embarrassments of his Helsinki life style… Continue reading Symphonic Form – Sibelius vs Mahler

Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ – Best Recorded Version

Mahler’s second symphony requires immense attention to detail to be successfully performed. This is brilliantly observed in one of my favourite classical recordings of all time, which remains a big hit with classical music critics: Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’, Simon Rattle (conductor), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano) and Arleen… Continue reading Mahler Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ – Best Recorded Version